A lifeboat carrying about 130 refugees capsized early on Sunday morning off the coast of Farmakonisi, with authorities announcing that 34 bodies have been recovered, including four infants and 11 children – six boys and five girls.

The Coast Guard rescued 68 refugees, while 30 managed to swim to the shore of Farmakonisi. The rescued refugees have been transferred to Leros, where they will be hosted in a local hotel, at the initiative of the local mayor and the UNHCR. The bodies were taken to Rhodes.

The island mayor Michalis Kolias told in.gr that “this is the least we can do for these people. We seem people in desperation, mourning their dead” and feared that the finally tally in the latest nautical tragedy will increase.

Mr. Kolias called the caretaker government and the one to be formed after next weekend’s elections to take measures in order to put an end to the situation, as the weather conditions at seas are growing worse.

The caretaker Minister of Shipping Christos Zois expressed his deep sorrow for the latest tragedy in the Aegean and underlined that the Coast Guard is doing its best to address a multifaceted European problem in adverse situations.

Mr. Zois stressed that “tragic incidents, like the one today, must raise awareness; there can be no more delays allowed. It is imperative to plot a common European strategy of cooperation and policy to address the phenomenon, in order to safeguard human life and dignity”.